EPC Leadership Class Rounds Out Industry Education at the New York Produce Show

The fifth Eastern Produce Council (EPC) Leadership Class finished an informative 2023 educational program with a robust schedule of events at the New York Produce Show and Conference (NYPS) in New York City from December 5 to 7, 2023. “Attending the show and conference provides unique industry support, mentorship and networking for the members of our leadership class,” says Theresa Lowden, President of the EPC and Executive Vice President, Produce and Floral at JOH.

The group’s activities began at the NYPS Cornell University Future-Leaders-In-Produce Foundational Excellence event, a career-building program providing an immersion into the scope of the produce industry. Susan McAleavey Sarlund, EPC Executive Director, kicked off a segment of the agenda with a brief explanation of the EPC and its Leadership Program as well as her own background. Four members of the Leadership Class – Julie Barber, Max Pozzessere, Joseph Strumolo, and Stephanie Tramutola – then participated on a lively discussion panel moderated by Ed McGlaughlin of Cornell. “It was a unique experience for members of our class to share their perspective on the industry as well as learn from respected produce industry professionals and renowned Cornell faculty,” says McAleavey Sarlund.

During the NYPS Keynote Breakfast, the members of the EPC Leadership Class were recognized by the greater industry. The class then attended the show Ribbon Cutting ceremony and the exposition. “Our EPC Leadership program is all about having a dual-medium learning environment combining hands-on experience with classroom learning throughout the year,” says McAleavey Sarlund. “The NYPS is a great fit for our objectives and a perfect culmination to our program since it provides so much interactive and educational opportunities.”

The 2023 class activities began with a visit in March to the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market (PWPM) in Philadelphia, PA, followed by Holt Cargo Systems at the Port of Gloucester, NJ. In April, the group received training on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) during a seminar prior to the general EPC membership meeting at Top Golf in Edison, NJ. A combined classroom and field experience took place in October at Hionis Greenhouses in Whitehouse Station, NJ, and Rutgers’ Clifford E. and Melda C. Snyder Research and Extension Farm located near Pittstown, NJ. Nominations for the sixth Leadership Class will open in January of 2024. For more information visit www.easternproducecouncil.com.

Participants selected for this year’s program include: Brian Arena, Four Seasons Produce Inc.; Julie Barber, The Oppenheimer Group; Lauren Barczak, Procacci Brothers Sales Corp.; Jack Christy, The Oppenheimer Group; Andrea Cutler, Michael Cutler Company; Tyler Davidov, Suja; Anna Fagan, AeroFarms; Michael Hill, Nature Sweet; Chris Jacobsen, Silo; Mike Kominsky, Ventura Foods; Savannah Lloyd, Farm-Wey Produce Inc.; Joshua Minton, Frank Donio Inc.; Isaac Olivas, Fowler Farms; Luke Palizay, Pacific Trellis Fruit; Max Pozzessere, Little Leaf Farms; Nicolina Rutherford, Wakefern Food Corp.; Jessica Sarter, Pulmuone Foods; Jerry Scherwin, PennRose Farms; Christopher Scotti, John Vena Inc.; Eric Smith, John Vena Inc.; Karolina Sokolska, Hampton Farms; Alexis Sommers, F&S Fresh Foods; Joseph Strumolo, Wakefern Food Corp.; Stephanie Tramutola, A & J Produce Corp.; Jenna Vaccaro, Sugar Foods; and Nicholas Vargas, Wakefern Food Corp. 

Photo Credit for all photos: NYPS/Dean Barnes

Photo 1 [FoundationalExcell]: EPC Leadership Class participates in Foundational Excellence panel.

Photo 2 [RibbonCutting with EPC Class]: Members of the EPC Board and EPC Leadership Class at NYPS Ribbon Cutting ceremony.